Spring has sprung! The chill has thawed across the east coast and out here on the west, the gloomy haze and rain have lifted! There has never been a better reason to get outdoors and back into nature. And that’s good news because nature isn’t just beautiful; it also has terrific benefits for our health and well-being. Scientific research shows that spending time outdoors can work wonders for our mental and physical health.
A recent study by the University of Tokyo found that spending time in nature enhances physical and mental health, fosters feelings of connection, and improves emotional wellbeing. All our senses come alive when surrounded by nature, resulting in a lower heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and relaxed muscles. Researchers agree that as few as 20 minutes per day or 2 hours per week in nature can positively impact our health.
This growing body of evidence confirms the importance of spending time outside. Whether hiking or practicing yoga outdoors, we should all be trying to connect with nature as much as possible!
Here are eight evidence-based reasons to spend more time in nature:
1. Reduced stress and anxiety
If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately, spending time in nature might be just what the doctor ordered! Studies have shown that time in nature can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. So next time you feel stressed, walk in the park or meditate outside and let nature work magic! I love going for an evening walk around my neighborhood while listening to a meditation or podcast. It sets me up for a relaxing night, and I sleep better after spending time outdoors before bedtime.
2. Enhanced mood
Not only can spending some quality time with Mother Nature reduce stress, but it can also boost your mood and overall well-being. Spending time outdoors can alleviate symptoms of depression by providing extra exposure to sunlight that helps produce vitamin D, which is known to help with depression symptoms and improve mood. Whether taking a walk or simply drinking your morning coffee outside in the sun, you might be surprised by how much it can improve your energy levels and overall mood.
3. Improved lung function
Did you know that spending time outdoors can lower the risk of respiratory issues? A 2016 study found that people with the most greenery in their neighborhoods were 34% less likely to die from respiratory diseases. Indoor air can be more contaminated with pollutants than outdoor air, too. Try venturing out of the city to find clear air at a nearby park or green space to improve your lung function.
4. Sleep Soundly
Getting a good night’s sleep can be a struggle for many. However, getting outdoors can help regulate our body’s internal biological clock, known as our circadian rhythm, and improve the quality of our sleep. Our circadian rhythms are influenced by exposure to sunlight, and spending too much time indoors or in front of screens can disrupt them. When we spend time outdoors, we expose ourselves to natural light and allow our bodies to synchronize with the natural rhythms of the day. Next time you’re struggling to fall asleep, consider taking a walk outside. Not only will your lungs benefit from the fresh air, but you may also find that you can get a better night’s sleep.
5. Increased physical activity
Spending time outside encourages physical activity, and seeing other people exercising can boost our motivation and encourage us to keep moving. Walking outdoors is a great way to stay active and explore new areas of the world while enjoying the fresh air. Joining a walking club can be a fun and social way to stay motivated and accountable while connecting with others. I love making a walking date with a friend because I get to socialize, get some outdoor time, and get to work in some exercise.
6. Better immune system
Did you know exposure to nature boosts our immune system? Experts suggest that being outdoors can reduce our risk of catching COVID and other viruses due to the increased air circulation. Additionally, microorganisms found in the air outside can help strengthen our immune system. Make sure to get out into the sunshine and fresh air as much as possible to reap the benefits of spending time in nature.
7. Healthier eyes
Playing outdoors can be good for children’s eyesight. Studies show that kids who spend more time playing outside are less likely to become nearsighted. Being outside helps their eyes practice focusing on objects at different distances, and the bright light and fresh air are also beneficial for their eyes. If you want to help keep your children’s eyes healthy, encourage them to play outside more often! It’s a fun and easy way to enjoy nature while caring for their vision.
8. Enhanced creativity and cognitive function
Do you feel uninspired lately? Spending time in nature can enhance your creativity and cognitive function. Exposure to nature can improve problem-solving skills and even boost our ability to focus. I love practicing my journaling exercises outside. Being in nature helps me think more clearly and focus on the task at hand. It’s a relaxing and refreshing way to get my creativity flowing.
Getting outside is a fun and effective way to boost mental and physical well-being. The benefits are clear, from reducing stress and anxiety to improving overall mood and cognition. If you’re looking for more ways to get out in nature and improve your health, don’t hesitate to book a one-on-one consultation with me.